News: Campaign furthers work to end HIV epidemic

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Media contacts: 

Jake Maxon, Positively Hennepin coordinator, 612-940-8133

Bill Belknap, Public Health Communications, 952-292-6664

Campaign furthers work to end HIV epidemic

Hennepin County is among the first U.S. government agencies to join an international campaign to share new information about how HIV treatment also prevents its spread. 

Medical experts now know that once HIV is undetectable in a person’s blood, it is not transmittable to others through sex. 

The Prevention Access campaign includes more than 600 health departments and community organizations across 75 countries.

Starting today, AIDS Action Day at the Minnesota State Capitol, Hennepin County and the Minnesota Health Department will use the campaign to raise awareness and empower people to halt HIV’s spread. 

This work ties in with the county’s Positively Hennepin initiative, a strategy to end the HIV epidemic. 

“Our initiative is called Positively Hennepin because a positive HIV test now gives people power,” said Jake Maxon, Positively Hennepin coordinator. “For people who test positive for HIV, it’s the power to get and stay treated, suppress the virus in their bodies and live healthy, vibrant lives. For those who test negative for HIV, it’s the power to take protective steps to stay that way.”

Breaking down stigmas

The international Prevention Access campaign and the local Positively Hennepin campaign help reduce shame and fear of HIV.

“More broadly, it’s about focusing on what matters: serving people living with HIV and those at risk,” Maxon said. “It’s about breaking down the stigmas on the community, clinical, and personal level that marginalize the very same people who can end this epidemic.”

The county is engaging with communities hit hardest by the epidemic to connect people with prevention and treatment. While HIV can infect anyone, it has had a stronger negative impact on certain communities, including:

  • Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men
  • Black men and women
  • American Indians
  • Latinos and Latinas
  • Transgender people

For example, black men and women living in the county are nearly five times more likely to live with HIV than their white neighbors. If the epidemic does not change course, one in two gay black men will live with HIV.

To combat this crisis, Hennepin County is working with the West African HIV Task Force and black faith communities.

More information about these campaigns

Learn more about Undetectable = Untransmittable.

Learn more about Positively Hennepin.

Get help for HIV/AIDS

The county’s Red Door Clinic offers sexual health care for all people. Services include confidential tests and treatment.

Find more information on the clinic’s webpage.

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